17 Jan 2006

At least 30 rebels being trained by Fijians in PNG's Bougainville

2:19 pm on 17 January 2006

There are claims in the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville that five former Fijian soldiers are training at least 30 young men in a rebel-held area.

The camp at Tonu in the Siwai district is being run by a wanted pyramid scheme operator, Noah Musingku, who has defied calls to turn over the Fijians, arguing they are security guards for his bank.

The president of the autonomous Bougainville government, Joseph Kabui, has been saying the government will send in armed men to confront the Fijians.

But President Kabui says military action is not inevitable:

"Fighting over anything on Bougainville is a matter that we have been trying to avoid at all costs. There's enough fighting that we have had on the ground, but there are other peaceful approaches that I believe can still be employed."

President Kabui says the Fijians need the confidence to take up the government's offer of protection and safe passage to the provincial capital, Buka, and on to Port Moresby.